Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, God, grace, righteousness, Spiritual, tears

Peeling the onion

I love how God orchestrates the details of our lives.  I had no intention of returning to work beyond the walls of my home but I knew when He was leading otherwise.  Once I determined to search for a job, my criteria was very simple and specific for the “right” position.  First, it had to be part-time.  I wanted to continue my business as a seamstress and I wanted to have time to write and speak and teach.  Second, I didn’t want to have to go through a great deal of training.  I know it sounds a bit lazy, but I just wanted a no-brainer kind of job.  Something easy.  In sharing this new direction with a friend, she suggested that I go by her chiropractor’s office as she thought they were looking for someone.  I did and they were and it was exactly what I was looking for.  Sweet!

So for the past few months I’ve been working part-time for a chiropractor whose practice expands into the scope of wholeness – treatments and consultations that go beyond structural adjustments and into the areas of nutrition and health.  (Talk about accountability in what I pack for my lunch on work days!)  His knowledge of how the body works (or doesn’t work) physically, mentally, and emotionally is vast and I am learning a great deal from our conversations. Being of a certain age and dealing with the challenges and frustration of this certain age have proven more than I’ve been able to manage as well as I’d like on my own, so finding this position is simply one more revelation of His perfect leading in my life.  I am finding answers.  Slowly.  One by one.  This is not my preferred method to arrive at solutions.

The doctor says that it’s like peeling an onion.  There are many layers and the only way to see all that is in the onion is to peel back the layers one at a time.  (He didn’t mention that there would be tears…) And while he is helping me uncover the real reasons my knee hurts and my arm aches and the extra pounds just will not budge, God is still peeling away as well…

And He’s uncovered a layer of discontent.

I truly am in the best time in my life, but I’ve found myself more irritable and frustrated lately than usual.  Some days I haven’t wanted to look deeper than the outer layers, so I’ve blamed my grumpiness on being tired.  A lot.  And I am tired, but God is peeling away whether I like it or not and showing me that this layer of discontent is one of the things that is making me so tired.

As I’ve taken the time to look at this layer, most of the things I am discontented with are small things.  A few are bigger things with which I am frustrated because there seems to be no progress.  And of course, last but not least, I am discontented with myself.  Again, nothing major, but a clinging dissatisfaction with my own personal progress.

As I turned to scripture to see what it had to say about contentment, a familiar statement by Paul first came to mind.  But then I came across another that I’d never given much attention:

Godliness accompanied with contentment is great and abundant gain.  1 Timothy 6:6

We can be saved and redeemed and forgiven and still be discontent.  However, this godliness that we’ve been given needs to be connected to contentment, for our good and everyone else’s.  It’s not easy to live with a discontented person…

Now the more familiar words:

…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…  Philippians 4:11-12

There is a secret to being content in any and every situation and it must be LEARNED.  This is the secret:

I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13

and …Apart from Me – cut off from vital union with Me – you can do nothing.  John 15:5b

The Greek word for content is autarkes.  It means “sufficient in oneself, adequate, needing no assistance”

If I will learn that I am in vital union with Him – I cannot be separated from Him – and I draw my strength from this knowledge daily, sometimes breath by breath, I will be content.  He is enough that I need no other assistance.  He is in me and I am in Him and this fact alone makes me sufficient for whatever lies before me.

There have been a few tears in this peeling of the onion that is revealing my areas of discontent, and there will likely be a few more before it is all said and done.  But I will continue my education.  I will learn to be content.

 

 

Christian, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, Jesus, loss, love, righteousness, Spiritual, tears, trials, Uncategorized

She just doesn’t know it yet

He’s been watching her all her life.  He’s whispered to her time and time again but she didn’t hear.  He yearns to hold her and comfort her as she struggles.  It’s going to be all right, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She trembles with the fear of the unknown as her circumstances have stripped her of her identity.  She is strong, she just doesn’t know it yet.

The love that had been her foundation has been ripped away.  She yields to the new identity that presses in on her:  the unlovable.  She is immeasurably loved, she just doesn’t know it yet.

This roller coaster ride of choices makes her sick.  She hates herself because of her weakness.  His opinion of her remains unchanged, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Loneliness is her constant companion as no one wants on this ride with her.  She is not alone, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She goes through the motions of living while she entertains the thoughts of ending it all.  Her earthly life has eternal purpose, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Defeat hangs over her like a thick black cloud as she cannot go back and change the past.  Her knees buckle under the weight of the consequences.  She is redeemed, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She grasps to find hope in the words she reads and the messages she hears, but it seems she is grasping at air.  She is full of hope, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Her tears are constant from the pain of this deep, gaping wound from which she believes she will never recover.  She is healed, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She heard the words again today.  The same words she’s heard over and over, but this time something is different.  Can it really be true?  He loves her?  Something stirs inside her as she considers this possibility…something life-changing…

Her life is changing, she just doesn’t know it yet.

 

She just doesn’t know it yet” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

Bible, Christian, church, death, Encouragement, Faith, God, grace, grief, Jesus, loss, love, new creation, righteousness, sorrow, Spiritual, tears

In between

I woke this morning thinking of the followers of Jesus many, many years ago who awoke on this day in between.  They had walked with Him and talked with Him and believed in Him and now He was dead. The fullness of understanding had not come to them yet and they find themselves striving to put the pieces together.  I imagine what it was like as they recall and discuss with one another the things He said as they openly share their grief for this Beloved One who is gone.  Some silently grieve over the hope they feel is dying as doubts and fears begin to creep into the sacred place of their broken hearts.

The mighty work being done was invisible to them, as are all things of faith in the beginning.  Some found strength in numbers, remaining with their fellow believers.  Others pull away searching for clarity in the solitude where no one can touch their pain or expose what they are afraid is their faithlessness. Still others cannot be still, pacing as they try to find something to do that will ease their sorrow and clear the fog of the unknown, not realizing that nothing they could ever do would impact the outcome of His marvelous plan.

In between they wait.

They cling to the words of promise uttered from His lips but they do not see the fulfillment.  The frustration of things left undone is ready to overwhelm if they will let it have its way.  Emotionally and physical exhaustion cause the hours to pass slowly.

Three days.

There is no way around it, this day in between.  Tomorrow there will finally be something to do, rituals to observe which are in themselves the symbols of finality.  Once His body was prepared and the tomb was sealed again, they would be expected to return to their lives.  But how could they?  They have been forever changed and nothing is the same as it was before He came and the question hangs in the air “What will we do now?”

Sometimes the waiting in between is hard for us also.  We find Him and His promise that sin is conquered and that we will be free from its grip and destruction.  We know from the depths of our spirits He is real and His promises are true.  But we look at ourselves and it appears we are unchanged.  We cannot always see the work He is performing in our own lives and if we are not careful the frustration of things that seem undone can overwhelm us.  Fears and doubts stand ready to creep in and convince us that we are not really changed after all.

In between we wait.

Oh, sometimes there are obvious things that we need to do.  We need to read and study and fellowship with those who will love and encourage.  We need to recall and discuss the things we were taught of Him.  But when we understand that it is by faith that we receive Him and by faith that we receive the victory over sin, we can learn to stand in faith while we wait, our faith placed in His power to change us from within and work out this wonderful salvation in our every day lives.  Faith that one day our transformation will be evident on the outside.

Those believers many years ago stood in between the cross and the resurrection and they waited.  We stand in between the power of the resurrection and the perfection that heaven will be.  There is no way around it, there is time in between.  This time of our existence on earth is important and He will make it significant in His way and His time.  But let’s not forget that this is not the end goal.  One day we will be with Him after the in between. 

In between” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, friends, God, grace, Jesus, loss, love, praise, prayer, righteousness, sorrow, Spiritual, tears, trials, Uncategorized, worship

This hope we have

 

 

I could hardly understand what she was trying to say, her words were so choked and broken by sobs.  In the aftermath of choices that have irrevocably altered her life, she is powerless to stop the ripple effect throughout the waters of those who love her, a ripple effect that has produced their choices as well.  No doubt she will never return to the way things were.  The damage has been done.

“You have destroyed your life.”  This is the lie the enemy relentlessly screams to her as if her life is over and there is no point to her existence any longer.  It sounds true.  It feels true.  Others have even voiced those words.  It must be true.

What do I have to offer this one in the grips of despair?  Hope.  Not empty words of the sun shining again, although it will.  But a deeper hope that transcends the multitude of mistakes we make.  Hope that is the very answer to despair.  Hope that holds the future in His hands and Hope that is unwilling to settle for less than the impossible.  It is why He came to earth.

Here is a portion of a beautiful song by Kathryn Scott entitled At the Foot of the Cross that captures the wonder of this hope we have…

At the foot of the cross
Where grace and suffering meet
You have shown me Your love
Through the judgment You received

And You’ve won my heart
Yes You’ve won my heart
Now I can

Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross

This is the hope we have:  that we can take all the ashes of our choices, our mistakes, our sin to God and He does the impossible – He turns it into something beautiful.  For this burdened friend of mine, her mistakes have brought her to His feet where her suffering meets His grace, where He lifts her head and crowns her with His loving forgiveness, and where her life will begin again.  She will grieve over what is lost, but will rejoice in what is found as she discovers the mercy that is new every morning.  She will find Hope.

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not one of all His benefits— 

Who forgives every one of all your iniquities, Who heals each one of all your diseases, 

Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption,

Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy; 

Who satisfies your mouth – your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation – with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s – strong, overcoming, soaring!   Psalm 103:1-4

 

This hope we have” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

children, Christian, church, death, Encouragement, Faith, family, God, grace, grief, Jesus, loss, love, mothers, praise, sorrow, Spiritual, tears

Nothing prepares the heart…

Stinnetfinal2

…for this kind of love or this kind of loss…

there was a time i was afraid i would not love them enough

these beautiful souls He had entrusted to me

then discovered it was a wellspring that could not be stopped

depths that could not be spoken and

bonds that could not be broken

by the mere limitations of this earth

i celebrate this love we share

i hold tightly the memories

and the wonderful hope that one day we will all be together again

in His love

in His presence

forever

“Nothing prepares the heart…” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on ourpassionatepurpose.com   

Photograph by Kay Stinnett and Andi Campbell and cannot be used without permission.

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, grief, Jesus, love, praise, prayer, sorrow, Spiritual, tears, worship

When the tears will not be stopped

For the better part of my life I have been a closet-crier.  Tears did not come often but when they did I hid them.  Whether they were tears of sadness, anger, or frustration, as a child I lacked the ability to clearly communicate why I was crying and in our home tears for no good reason were tears that should be stopped. I became very good at stopping this unwanted watery overflow.  Through the years I prided myself in my ability to withstand this messy display of emotion, seeing myself as a rock of self-control.  So when the dam gave way without warning, I was caught quite off guard.  I found my previously strong will was no match for this deluge that had broken through, years of suppressed emotion flooding my life.

This most unwelcome event happened at the lowest point in my life.  Angry, sad, and depressed at the bleakness of my circumstances, the tears poured forth without mercy and I no longer had any resistance.  My only consolation was that I was alone.  No one saw the red nose and puffy eyes day after day, no one was privy to the anguish of my soul as I stayed hidden from the world.  I cried more than I believed humanly possible and I hated it.

Much occurred between me and God during this time.  In His goodness He drew me close, renewed by faith, and restored my hope.  But He left my heart more tender than it had ever been and He didn’t stop the tears.

I cry so easily now.  I won’t say that I always welcome the tears and I can’t say that I am entirely comfortable when they fill my eyes and run down my face in the presence of others.  But I have learned to yield to a heart made tender through difficulties and know that I am powerless to resist these tears that will not be stopped.  They give expression to things within that cannot adequately be described in mere words. They offer release from pain that would consume me were there no outlet.  They express the depths of the love I hold and the joy that rises from within.  They remind me of my desperate need of Him.  They usher in the Comforter and the Healer.

Sometimes they offer another a safe place to let their own tears flow with no need for explanation.

It is a difficult time of year for me and I cried as I stood at the counter of a store today.  I didn’t apologize as I would have in the past, worried that I had made someone uncomfortable and couldn’t offer them an explanation.  I simply reached for my tissues and continued with my purchase.  As I finalized the transaction, I saw from the corner of my eye that the gentleman waiting on me was wiping a tear from his own.  An uninvited, compassionate response of a stranger that will not soon be forgotten and which reminded me that we humans need tears when there are no words.